Havana's vintage cars a metaphor for Cuban people

Posted: 17-Feb-16 09:45

Photographer Susan Portnoy's recent blog entry about Havana's vintage automobiles perfectly captures the vibrant yet resilient character of Cuban people.

Havana's vintage cars a metaphor for Cuban people

While the image of a clapped out Chevy Impala barely held together by custom body work may have become something of a Havana cliche in recent years, there can be no denying that the iconic automobiles of Cuba provide a fitting metaphor for the spirit of its people.

Indeed, a recent blog post by travel writer and photographer, Susan Portnoy, for "The Insatiable Traveller" perfectly captured the wonderful photogenic quality of these classic cars of the 1950s; and with it a sense of the resourcefulness that unites the Cuban people in times of hardship.

With approximately a quarter of the vehicles in Cuba being mid-century American classics like Pontiacs, Studebakers and Cadillacs – often referred to as "yank tanks" or "almendrones" by the locals – you can't walk for more than 100 yards in a city like Havana without being confronted by an iconic emblem of the past, making any trip to the island nation a vibrant and colorful trip down automotive memory lane.

Colorful in heart and spirit

Despite admitting to knowing very little about cars, Portnoy was so struck by the colorful silhouettes and sensual curves of these design classics on a recent trip to Havana that she felt compelled to document her experience with a brief blog entry and a catalogue of beautifully-captured images.

"I realized that beyond their wonderful photogenic qualities, the cars represented far more than an icon for holidays in Havana. They are a metaphor for the Cuban people. Gloriously vibrant, though worn by hardship. Resilient against the odds. Colorful in heart and spirit."

Commented Portnoy in her blog post.

With Cuban's taking great pride in their ability to tinker with vehicles and modify spare parts not even intended for cars, every retrofitted classic in Havana is a one-off – and taking them in in all their faded splendour is just one of the countless reasons why a trip to Cuba is a sensory experience quite like any other. Cliches be damned; these 50s style icons are a sight worth seeing first-hand.


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